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A cross-regional assessment

This section develops a cross-region assessment to identify the main impacts of the CAP and RDP reforms on the economic structures and employment levels of the five regions. The assessment is based on results from the application of the three separate methodologies which aimed to identify the main existing differences and similarities between regions and consequently to draw conclusions relating to policy effectiveness.

Qualitative assessment of the CAP impacts

Evaluating the impacts of Pillar 2 reforms upon farm and non-farm employment was undertaken through qualitative research that included a detailed initial desk-based documentary analysis, in-depth interviews with stakeholders and key decision-makers in each region, followed by cross-case comparison. The main inferences drawn from this research can be divided into three broad themes: i) the effects of the CAP and RDP reforms on the rural economy, ii) the interaction of these reforms with other policies, and iii) consequent impacts on farm and non-farm employment (Table 14.2).

Unanimous views were revealed regarding the relationship between the rural economy and RDP reform: development of the rural economy depends specifically on the degree of support received through RDP. The support of agriculture is disproportionate to its importance for the rural economy. CAP reforms have not increased jobs in the regions; at best, they manage only to maintain the existing level. A negative consequence of the reforms is the unequal distribution of support from Pillar 1, which supports income rather than the employment level of the region. In addition, the need for further CAP changes is emphasized in all regions, suggesting that the key measures of CAP are ineffective and inappropriate to safeguard future development. For example, views that current Pillar 1 support helps to create a subsidy-dependence culture among the farmers were widely expressed. Finally, in all regions, most interviewees wanted to gradually diminish the scope of Pillar 1 and correspondingly strengthen Pillar 2.

Table 14.2. Qualitative results on CAP impacts

Main themes

Perceptions agreed amongst stakeholders and decision makers

Rural Development Programmes upon rural economy

Agricultural sector receives disproportionate support

RDP determines the development of the rural economy

Retains labour in agriculture rather than increases labour

Creates an unequal income distribution

Needs streamlining but not abolishing Needs more effective and appropriate measures Gradual move towards Pillar 2

Interaction between CAP and other policies

Lack of coherence

Bureaucracy further deters RDP participation RDP poorly managed Waste of scarce resources

Rural Development Programmes upon employment

Sustains current employment levels or at least prevents further decline

Preserves the environment to a large extent

No significant effect on women's employment

Diversification and infrastructure support can enhance employment

opportunities

Respondents expressed a variety of views relative to their own region. In Ostergotland, interviewees emphasized economic dependencies between urban and rural areas, which they believe determines the future development of a rural region. In Emilia Romagna, respondents frequently mentioned that the lack of cooperation among farmers arises as a result of insufficient impetus from the CAP reforms. However, the fundamental conclusion was that while RDPs do serve as unique development and employment tool for any EU region, this effectiveness can be enhanced further by changes that allow flexibility according to the region’s specific needs.

On the interaction between CAP/RDP reforms and other policies, there was expressed a lack of coherence leading to confusion, which is exacerbated when combined with bureaucratic procedures. This lack of coherence and coordination between the CAP/RDP measures and other policies can result in a waste of scarce resources. In addition, focusing on specific actions and leaving out important regional dimensions weaken the dynamics of the RDPs.

Throughout the case study regions, respondents conceded that RDPs have indeed played a significant role in maintaining employment levels or at least in decelerating the rate of employment decline. Notably, however, respondents raised the issue of women’s employment. By enhancing female job opportunities, more stable demographic development can be maintained; but it was argued that current RDPs have little to offer for broadening women’s job opportunities, since only a few programmes relate to women’s labour (e.g. agro-tourism). Refocusing RDPs on activities such as child care, training and improved social structures can provide new incentives for women to stay in rural areas and to find a job. In addition, supporting general infrastructure was felt to be essential for a vibrant rural region. It is worth mentioning that LEADER+ is perceived as a programme that reinforces the labour market and should be extended by broadening its effectiveness.

 
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